From left to right: Paul Murasko, senior director of multichannel marketing at Sunovion Pharmaceuticals; Erik Dalton, EVP at Healthcasts; Dr. Joseph Habboushe, a physician at NYU Langone Medical Center; Rohit Heryani, senior manager of multichannel marketing at Daiichi Sankyo; and Kristina Lynn, senior manager of multichannel marketing at Purdue Pharma.

The major “pain point” between healthcare professionals and drugmakers is trust, and pharmaceutical ads often get in the way of that trust, Dr. Joseph Habboushe, a physician at NYU Langone Medical Center, told attendees at ePharma.

“Us doctors, we get advertised to constantly, and it’s not always the most straightforward way,” said Habboushe, who is also CEO of MDCalc, a medical score provider.

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Oftentimes, drugmakers blur the lines between a drug’s benefits and risks, quoting drug benefits in relative risks and actual risks in absolute value, making the benefits appear substantial and the risks less significant, noted Habboushe, while speaking Tuesday at the annual conference in New York City. There are also medical reference sites that fail to clearly communicate which parts of their website are paid for and influenced by pharmaceutical companies, he added.

“Doctors start sensing this and at the end of the day, we don’t fully trust our medical references,” said Habboushe. “We look for messaging from pharmaceutical companies not necessarily to help us treat our patients but to some extent to flag and discredit it.”

Rohit Heryani, senior manager of multichannel marketing at Daiichi Sankyo, agreed, saying that drugmakers need to establish trust to effectively engage with physicians.

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“The challenge is: how do you establish that connection with the physician, more from the disease state perspective and less from a product marketing perspective, to build that engagement long-term as opposed to in that moment,” said Heryani.

Instead of starting with the value of the brand, drugmakers must first think about the physician or the disease, and the patients suffering from that disease, said Erik Dalton, EVP at Healthcasts, a physician education platform.

Habboushe, Heryani, and Dalton participated in a panel discussion called, The Future of HCP Engagement.

Physicians are looking for information such as efficacy and safety data, how different drugs in the same therapeutic category compare to one another, whether a particular drug is appropriate for a particular patient, and if the drug is covered by the patient’s insurance, Habboushe said.

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“What works for us is not just a flashy advertisement as much as, ‘Here’s information that will help with the decision you’re making now,” said Habboushe. “‘Or by the way, there’s this new drug out there, and there are some other patients you might see tomorrow [who may be suitable for it.]””

Transparency is key, agreed all speakers on the panel. The more drugmakers get comfortable with sharing negative as well as positive information, the more healthcare professionals will trust them and their messages, said Heryani.

“More transparency means that doctors are more willing to write [prescriptions for] new drugs,” said Habboushe.